People of Color in YA Fantasy

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Finding racial representation across genres in children’s and teen literature is difficult. As colleagues and I comb publishing statistics and explore available books, we notice that if a character of color is the “star,” it is probably historical fiction or contemporary realistic fiction. Here, though, you can find titles featuring primary characters of color in the wonderful genre of fantasy – with sprinkles of fairy tale, dystopia and sci-fi. Luckily, this is not an exhaustive list, and I am hopeful there will be more titles to choose from with each publishing cycle.

For more titles that feature characters of color, check out the Black, Indigenous and People of Color in Books for Teens list.

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Beasts Made of Night

After he eats the sin of a royal, Taj, a talented aki, or sin-eater who consumes the guilt of others whose transgressions are exorcised from them by powerful but corrupt Mages, is drawn into a plot to destroy the city, and he must fight to save the princess he loves and his own life. You can also check out this title as eAudio on Overdrive/Libby or as eBook on Overdrive/Libby.

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns

Set in an East Asian-inspired fantasy world, The Evil Queen legend is reimagined when Xifeng, a beautiful peasant girl, goes on the quest to become empress and fulfill her destiny. To rise to power, she must embrace the darkness within her by spurning the young man who loves her and exploiting the magic that runs through her veins. You can also check out this title as eAudio on Overdrive/Libby or as eBook on Overdrive/Libby.

The Good Luck Girls

The country of Arketta calls them Good Luck Girls–they know their luck is anything but. Sold as children and branded with cursed markings, they are trapped in a life they would never have chosen. When one of them accidentally kills a man, the girls risk a dangerous escape and harrowing journey to find freedom, justice, and revenge in a country that wants them to have none of those things. You can also check out this title as eAudio on Overdrive/Libby or as eBook on Overdrive/Libby.

Labyrinth Lost

Alex is a bruja and the most powerful witch in her family. But she’s hated magic ever since it made her father disappear into thin air. When a curse she performs to rid herself of magic backfires and her family vanishes, she must travel to Los Lagos, a land in-between as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland, to get her family back. You can also check out this title as eBook on Overdrive/Libby or as eBook on Hoopla.

Rogue Princess

Princess Delia must marry in order to secure an alliance and save her failing planet, but, hoping for true love, she steals a spaceship and finds a stowaway aboard named Aidan. You can also check out this title as eBook on Overdrive/Libby or as eAudio on Hoopla.

The Star-Touched Queen

Treated with scorn and fear in her father’s kingdom because of a formidable horoscope, 16-year-old Maya commits herself to her education only to land in an arranged marriage that culminates in her sudden elevation to the throne, a situation that is threatened by dark secrets and otherworldly magic. You can also check out this title as eAudio on Overdrive/Libby or as eBook on Overdrive/Libby.